Alison Better

Full Time Faculty

Behavioral Sciences

Contact:

Phone: (718) 368-5894
Email: Alison.Better@kbcc.cuny.edu
Office Location: D-107, D Cluster

Alison Better

 

Dr. Alison Better is Associate Professor and Sociology Area Coordinator at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY. Her scholarly research is conducted in two distinct areas—the study of gender, sexuality, and embodiment as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning. Dr. Better has been engaged in a qualitative study of boutique and feminist sex-toy stores, seeking to recognize ways these public retail sites shape understandings of gender, sexuality, and bodies for women and others with minoritized identities. Her teaching research focuses on the topic of engaging students in the study of sociology through the collection of personal experiences to be analyzed as data in introductory sociology courses. ​

At Kingsborough, she was a part of the Brooklyn Public Scholars project and also served as co-director of Women’s and Gender Studies from 2016-18. Prof. Better is the current Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Teaching and Learning, a former Council Member for the ASA Section on Body and Embodiment and was an appointed member of the ASA Task Force on Community College Faculty.

Prof. Better received her PhD in Sociology from Brandeis University in 2010. Prior to joining the faculty at Kingsborough, she taught at Tufts University and Brandeis University and held academic staff positions at the Brandeis University Intercultural Center and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She has published articles in Sexualities, Sexuality & Culture, Teaching Sociology, and The American Sociologist and is the co-editor (with KCC colleagues Emily Schnee and Martha Clark Cummings) of the book Civic Engagement Pedagogy in the Community College: Theory and Practice (Springer 2016).

Courses

Soc 38: Sociology of Gender
Soc 31: Introduction to Sociology
Soc 31: Introduction to Sociology with Women’s and Gender Studies Focus

Education

PhD    2010    Brandeis University   Sociology
 MA    2005   Brandeis University   Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies
 BA    2000   Skidmore College   Sociology and Women’s Studies

 

College Teaching

Kingsborough Community College (2011-Present)
Brandeis University (2007-2009) 
Tufts University (2009)

Publications:

Better, Alison. 2018. Review of Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure by Lynn Comella, American Journal of Sociology 124(3): 938-940.

Brown, Sonia, Stacye Blount, Charles A. Dickinson, Alison Better, Margaret Weigers Vitullo, Deidre Tyler and Michael Kisielewski. 2016. Teaching for Social Justice: Motivations of Community College Faculty in Sociology. Teaching Sociology 44(4) 244–255.

Schnee, Emily, Alison Better, and Martha Clark Cummings (Editors). 2016. Civic Engagement Pedagogy in the Community College: Theory and Practice. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Better, Alison. 2016. The Political is Personal: Public Sociology and Social Change through Community Engagement. Civic Engagement Pedagogy in the Community College: Theory and Practice. Emily Schnee, Alison Better, and Martha Clark Cummings, Editors. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Better, Alison and Brandy L. Simula. 2015. How and for Whom Does Gender Matter? Rethinking the Concept of Sexual Orientation. Sexualities 18(5/6): 665-680.

Better, Alison. 2014. Redefining Queer: Women’s Relationships and Identity in an Age of Sexual Fluidity.Sexuality and Culture 18(1): 16-38.

Better, Alison. 2014. Painting Desire Pink: Meaning-Making at a Romance Sex Store. Selves, Symbols and Sexualities: Contemporary Readings. Staci Newmahr and Thomas Weinberg, Editors. SAGE.

Better, Alison. 2013. Learning from Experience: Integrating Students’ Everyday Lives into the Urban Community College Sociology Classroom. The American Sociologist 44(4): 385-395.

Better, Alison. 2011. Pleasure for Sale: Feminist Sex Stores. Introducing the New Sexualities Studies, 2ndEdition, Steven Seidman, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks, Editors. New York: Routledge

Conference Presentations:

Simula, Brandy, Andrea Miller, Theo Greene, Lisa Wade, Katie Acosta, Angela Jones, D’Lane Compton, Alison Better, and Jason Orne. 2019. Is My Sexualities Course Too Sexy?: Teaching Sex and Sexualities in the College Classroom. Teaching Workshop presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, New York, New York.

Banerjee, Ria, Megan Behrent, Alison Better, Sarah L. Hoiland, and María Julia Rossi. 2019. Mind the Gender Gap: How an FFPP Group Became So Much More. Panel presented at CUNY Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Conference, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2018. Addressing Social Inequalities and Social Justice in the Classroom: A Workshop Sharing Ideas and Best Practices (with Clare Forstie, Sarah Hoiland, Diane S. McMahon, Thomas Piñeros-Shields, Ashley Rondini, and Chandra D.L. Waring). Panel presentation at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Better, Alison. 2018. Come Again: Lessons about Sex, Gender, and Sexuality from Sex-Toy Stores. Paper presented at ASA Sexualities Preconference - Sexualities, Race and Empire: Resistance in an Uncertain Time, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Better, Alison. 2017. Constructing Space and Community for Sexual and Gender Exploration at Sex Toy Boutiques. Paper presented at Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.

Nowell, Michaela and Alison Better. 2015. Teaching Sexualities at Community Colleges: Lessons from our Classrooms. Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois.

Better, Alison. 2015. Centering Students’ Experiences in the Sociology Classroom: A Feminist Teaching Project. Paper presented at Feminist Pedagogy Conference, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2015. Integrating Everyday Life into Sociology Courses. Paper presented at Community College Mini-Conference, Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2014. The Political is Personal: Civically Engaging Introductory Sociology Students in their Own Communities. Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California.

Better, Alison and Brandy L. Simula. 2013. How and for Whom Does Gender Matter?: Rethinking the Concept of Sexual Orientation. Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2013. Learning from Experience: Benefits and Challenges of Integrating Students’ Everyday Lives into the Urban Community College Classroom. Paper presented at Community College Mini-Conference, Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.

Better, Alison. 2012. Queering Heterosexuality, or what does it mean for a woman to be in a relationship with a man? Paper presented at Critical Heterosexualities panel, ASA Sexualities Mini Conference, Denver, Colorado.

Better, Alison. 2012. Selling Romance, Seeking Pleasure: Contributions of a ‘Women and Couples’ Focused Sex Shop. Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado.

Better, Alison, Jason VanOra and Barbara Walters. 2012. ESL and Learning Communities at Kingsborough Community College.  Paper presented at Community College Mini-Conference, Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2012. Gaining Access and Keeping Secrets: Issues in Data Collection for Sexualities Research.Paper presented at Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New York, New York.

Better, Alison. 2011. “Redefining Queer: Women’s Pleasure and Relationships in an Age of Sexual Fluidity.” Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Better, Alison. 2009. “Bodies and Ethnographies: Rethinking the Researcher’s Role in Sexualities Studies.” Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California.

Better, Alison. 2007. “Creating New Methodologies for Sexuality Research.” Poster presented at University Consortium for Sexuality Research and Training Inaugural Conference, Bloomington, Indiana.

Better, Alison.  2006. “Feminist Methods Without Boundaries.” Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec.

Better, Alison.  2006. “Empowering Orgasmic Women to Change the World: An Examination of Women-Owned Sex Shops and Their Relation to the Feminist Movement.” Paper presented at Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.

Better, Alison.  2005.  “Best of Two Worlds: An Exploration of Identity Issues Among Gay Fathers.” Paper presented at American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Invited Lectures:

CUNY Faculty Fellowship Publication Program, December 2019

CUNY Indoor Voices Podcast, Episode 24, February 2019

Diversity Symposium, KCC, October 2018

Women’s and Gender Studies Across the Disciplines Faculty Roundtable. KCC. March 2016, 2017, 2018

Women’s History Month Faculty Speaker, KCC. March 2014

“Come Again: Sex Stores, Relationships, and the Future of Sexualities” Keynote Speaker, Sex and Sexualities Research Conference, Brandeis University. April 2013

“Women and Sexuality” Real Talk Panel Discussion. Women’s History Month. KCC. March 2012

 “Troubling Gender”. Orientation Lecture. Brandeis University. August 2010

 “Transgressing Categories: Gender, Sexuality, and the Body”. Orientation Lecture. Brandeis University. August 2009

Research Interests:

Gender and Sexuality

Sociology of the Body

Sex Stores and Women’s Pleasure

Creation and Maintenance of Sexual Categories

Using Qualitative and Ethnographic Research Methods in Sex and Sexuality Studies

Teaching and Learning

Awards Recognition, Distinctions, and Grants:

PSC-CUNY Research Award (Traditional A), CUNY, 2019-20

William P. Kelly Research Fellowship, CUNY, 2018-19

PSC-CUNY Research Award (Traditional A), CUNY, 2016-17
Come Again: Creating Sex, Sexuality, and Gender at Sex Stores

Faculty Fellowship Publication Program, CUNY Office of Recruitment and Diversity, 2016

PSC-CUNY Research Award (Traditional B) , CUNY, 2014-15
"Shopping for Pleasure: Romance Sex Shops and the Shaping of Women's Sexuality"

President’s Faculty Innovation Award, Kingsborough, 2014-15
"Public Sociology across Institutions and Through Different Social Worlds" 

SAGE Teaching Innovations & Professional Development Award, SAGE Publishers, 2014

President's Faculty Innovation Award (with Prof. Red Washburn), CUNY, 2013-14
"Doing Gender: Towards a Civically Engaged Women’s and Gender Studies Learning Community" 

William Stewart Travel Award, CUNY, 2012

University Prize Instructorship, Brandeis University, 2009

Brandeis Pluralism Alliance Grant, Brandeis University, 2008, 2009, 2010 (5 awards total)

Institutional Affiliations / Professional Societies

Chair, American Sociological Association Section on Teaching and Learning,2019-20 

ASA Task Force on Community College Faculty, Appointed Member, 2012-2015

Chair-Elect, American Sociological Association Section on Teaching and Learning, 2018-19

Council Member, ASA Section on Sociology of the Body and Embodiment, 2010-2012

Council Member, ASA Section on Teaching and Learning, 2015-2018

Section Memberships: Body and Embodiment, Sex and Gender, Sexualities, Teaching and Learning

Sociologists for Women in Society

Eastern Sociological Society

 Related links

Bodies and Sexualities in the Classroom

https://www.kbcc.cuny.edu/faculty/kctl/fig_sexuality.html